Graveyards are regularly associated with ghosts and phantoms, hence 70420 Graveyard Mystery seems utterly appropriate for Hidden Side which focuses upon such ghoulish characters. I love its dreary appearance in official images and the set contains an imposing possessed tree!
Furthermore, this model seems quite distinctive when compared with the several previous sets that depict cemeteries. The minifigures are similarly impressive and this set includes 335 pieces so the price of £24.99 or $29.99 appears reasonable in my opinion, especially given the quantity of new elements that are found here.
Hidden Side follows two minifigures in their mission to vanquish ghosts from Newbury. Jack Davids wears a white hooded jacket with an unusual striped pattern across the right shoulder which continues on either side. The same design adorns his cap and this piece has been cleverly dual-moulded with the hood. Moreover, the legs are decorated with pockets and a metallic silver charm which is shaped like a bone.
Parker L. Jackson appears equally detailed, featuring another dual-moulded element that combines her distinctive lavender hair with a spring yellowish green hat. These bright colours seem appropriate for such a fantastical theme and I like the torso design as well, particularly since the version without a bright light blue jacket is only otherwise available in two sets.
Both minifigures include heads which vary across the range. The male head features determined and smiling expressions while Parker's design appears cheerful on one side and concerned on the other. I like these elements and each character also comes with a printed mobile phone, revealing two ghosts which have presumably become visible through the Hidden Side app!
Jack's faithful dog, Spencer, has recently passed away and accordingly appears in the Hidden Side range as a ghost. White and trans-clear plastic has been combined to excellent effect and I love how smooth this piece feels, befitting an ethereal character. Nevertheless, certain familiar canine features remain visible, including Spencer's eyes, nose and folded ears.
Civilian characters populate each Hidden Side set and this one contains Mr. Branson, the graveyard caretaker. The light bluish grey hair piece is relatively common but this head is exclusive, featuring an endearing smile on one side and a nervous expression on the other. LEGO creates comparatively few older figures so this component may prove useful elsewhere.
Furthermore, the torso and legs are unique. These components appear remarkably detailed, featuring medium nougat overalls with tattered edges and muddy splatters which look great. The subtle stitched designs seem particularly intricate and I like the metallic gold zip printed across Mr. Branson's chest as well.
Unfortunately, antagonistic ghosts have descended upon Newbury. Mr. Branson can be possessed by one such creature and an alternative trans-neon green head is provided, featuring a scary expression! The spring yellowish green hair piece looks superb too. The textured detail is outstanding and this part only appears elsewhere in 40336 Newbury Juice Bar and 70425 Newbury Haunted High School.
The Completed Model
Graveyards have appeared in five LEGO sets and typically conform to similar design trends, featuring drab colours and gravestones of differing sizes. Certain areas of this model seem accordingly familiar, although its layout and overgrown design are somewhat unusual. The structure measures 32cm wide and stands on multiple dark tan plates which give the impression of muddy ground.
Two black gates, resembling wrought iron, stand at the entrance to the graveyard. They are mounted using clips so open smoothly and I like the decorative pearl gold 1x1 round plates positioned here. In addition, stickers are applied to the surrounding pillars. These include some wonderful detail and the dark green moss complements other areas of foliage across the model.
An elegant memorial is situated inside, featuring an angelic statue. The sticker underneath looks good and rotating the statue reveals three colourful 2x2 tiles that interact with the augmented-reality Hidden Side app, uncovering additional secrets that only become apparent through your mobile phone. I look forward to exploring the app when it is released next week.
The neighbouring graves contain red 2x2 inverted tiles, offering further engagement with the app. The central structure is particularly appealing, making ingenious use of a 2x4x6 door frame which provides ample room for a skeleton and a spring yellowish green key. I was slightly disappointed to find that the final tomb is entirely occupied by the aforementioned tiles, leaving no space for accessories.
However, each grave appears reasonably detailed from the exterior. I like the intricate stickers and the scattered plants look splendid. However, the largest tomb features a green 2x3 slope which seems out of place in my opinion. Fortunately, the shack where caretaking equipment is kept looks nice, matching the muted colours of this sombre environment.
Several accessories and a leaking tap are found inside. An ancient tree towers above the shack which seems rather strange, although its exposed roots look excellent. This structure is connected to a black turntable and slots between a pair of 2x2 corner bricks with angled sides which are supposed to keep the tree in position, although it can still rotate slightly.
The gnarled tree consists primarily of reddish brown pieces, although some dark tan and olive green highlights are also visible. Its textured bark looks absolutely fantastic and the Technic elements which form branches are great. A ghoul evidently resides within the tree as these branches can be activated by moving switches on the back. Moreover, the leaves can be adjusted to secure the branches in their raised position, as demonstrated below.
While this function is definitely enjoyable, the exposed mechanism appears rather awkward when the model is viewed from behind. In fact, the whole graveyard seems comparatively bland from this angle so I would recommend displaying it as the packaging suggests. Nevertheless, this haunted tree is fun and it would be difficult to disguise these switches without significantly increasing the number of parts which are included.
70420 Graveyard Mystery certainly matches the high standard established by earlier spooky themes, furthering my anticipation for the entire Hidden Side range! The minifigures are outstanding and I like the detailed graveyard environment too, particularly around the haunted tree which looks magnificent. Its possession function is equally appealing and the app integration provides further play value.
However, graveyards have appeared previously so I can envisage this model being overshadowed by other Hidden Sides sets that offer superior innovation. 70419 Wrecked Shrimp Boat, for example, also costs £24.99 or $29.99 and looks superb in official images. I am very satisfied with this set though and would recommend adding it to your collection.
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